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Coastal and marine studies in Australia: a workshop manual for teachers

Griffith University and the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1997
ISBN 0 868 57872 X

The Project Rationale

Originally Coastal and Marine Studies in Australia: A Workshop Manual for Teachers was published as a book and distributed to educators around Australia at a week long workshop. These educators worked specifically in professional development and teacher education and had an interest in marine issues.

This WWW version has been published to provide a wide range of people access to the material. Additionally, the ability to download the workshop modules onto a disk will enable workshop facilitators to make changes to or adapt the modules to suit the needs and interests of their workshop participants.

The uploading of Coastal and Marine Studies in Australia: A Workshop Manual for Teachers onto the WWW has been made possible with funding from the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories.

Introduction

Australia has one of the longest and most beautiful coastlines of any nation, and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is one of the largest in the world. These coastal and marine environments occupy a special place in the lives of most Australians. About 86% of the population live along the coast and much of the country's commercial and industrial activity takes place there. The EEZ represents some 11 million square kilometres of marine waters and their resources. For many Australians the coast is a place of great cultural significance because many social activities and recreational pursuits are centred there.

There have been, however, growing concerns in recent years that the quality and character of the coast has declined. Declining marine and coastal water quality is regarded as one of the most serious issues affecting our marine and coastal environments. Each year, thousands of tonnes of sewage effluent are discharged into estuarine and coastal waters. The management and protection of Australia's coastal and marine environment is thus a key priority in the Commonwealth's environment agenda with a number of major policy initiatives underway.

The Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative will tackle pollution problems and protect the environment in Australia's coastal areas by focussing on coastal pollution hot spots and significant threats to coastal water quality and marine biodiversity. In collaboration with State and local governments, it provides funds for capital works, develops Coastal and Marine Planning Programmes, provides funding for community projects and has developed an Integrated Oceans Policy.

The Government's Marine Programme also aims to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Australia's marine environment with the establishment of a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. It represents a strong commitment by the Commonwealth Government to protect the special values of our marine habitats.

The Project

The Coastal and Marine Schools Project is part of the overall Commonwealth Government Coastal and Marine Programme designed to inform all Australians on how we can work together to safeguard our coasts and marine environment for the future. The Coastal and Marine Schools Project is an initiative of the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories Portfolio Marine Group (now part of Environment Australia). It aims to provide accurate and timely information based on the latest marine research and targets the general community, schools, media, industry and recreational groups

To continue to meet the need for improved coastal and marine education for Australian students, the Coastal and Marine Schools Project was developed to further the efforts of the Coastal and Marine Programme. Its aims are to extend and develop a curriculum and professional development programme for teachers that promotes and encourages coast and marine studies from Kindergarten to Year 12 and incorporates currently available teaching materials and resources. The Project itself was done as a consultancy by three groups in consortium: these were the Marine Education Society of Australasia (MESA), the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) and the School of Education at Macquarie University through Macquarie Research Limited. The first stage of the project was led by the Marine Education Society of Australasia with the Macquarie University School of Education. Stage 2 was led by the Australian Association for Environmental Education with the Griffith University Centre for Innovation and Research in Environmental Education.

This is professional development manual. It is in modular form for flexibility of use and to cater for differences in the needs of educators working in and wishing to develop their programmes in coastal and marine education.

Stage 1

The main aim of Stage 1 was to prepare an up-to-date list of relevant and useful resources and assess the status of coastal and marine education in Australia. This consisted of four parts. Part 1 involved the preparation of a national resource list which included an evaluation of each resource, where it could be used in the curriculum, and what level of students the resource would be appropriate for. In addition to being a valuable resource itself, the listing has highlighted the types of resources currently unavailable, indicated what type of resources are most frequently used by teachers and those resources which are available and not used by teachers. The results of this provide valuable direction for the future development of resources for coastal and marine education.

Parts 2, 3 and 4 involved surveying the status of coastal and marine education in each State and Territory education system, identifying examples and case studies of 'Best Practice' in approaches to coastal and marine studies and developing 'pointers' that link current resources and programmes to the nationally-developed curriculum profiles. Results from this stage identified that the majority of coastal and marine education is presently being taught in the curriculum areas of Science and Studies of Society and Environment and, to a much lesser extent, in Technology and Health. All stakeholders contacted for their opinion stated that they would like to see a further emphasis of coastal and marine education in all areas of the curriculum from Kindergarten to Year 12 and in pre-service teacher education. The gaps found, however, included the lack of links between schools and pre-service teacher education programmes. A real need exists to establish partnerships between institutions training teachers and schools so that teachers are trained in coastal and marine studies and in environmental education. Stakeholders also overwhelmingly identified the need for the curriculum areas of Science and Studies of Society and Environment to be bought up to date with current information and resources in coastal and marine issues. They suggested involving marine science educators at universities and linking programmes at schools with the community, government and marine organisations. This was an interesting outcome, because when the features of a programme which make it exemplary in coastal and marine education were analysed, many schools have already formed such links. The most common strategies employed by schools with successful programmes had students actively participating in realistic situations were they could see purposeful results from their efforts. The teaching strategies were varied, providing hands-on experiences, field studies and linking activities with the community, marine organisations and universities.

An important outcome of the examination of the curriculum from Kindergarten to Year 12 was that there is ample opportunity for the teaching of coastal and marine topics within existing curricula, although there was a lack of resources for some disciplines in science, eg. physics and for other areas of the curriculum including technology and health, mathematics and English.

Stage 2

These findings contribute to the professional development programme of Stage 2, the main aims of which are:

Coastal and Marine Studies: A Workshop Manual for Teachers has been developed to provide a flexible set of workshop materials to help achieve these aims in both pre-service and in-service teacher education.